Jose Mourinho and Roberto Martinez top list as Real Madrid continue manager hunt

Real Madrid are now “desperately searching” for a successor to Julen Lopetegui, but struggling for options, with the current plan for former player Santiago Solari to only serve as stand-in for no more than two weeks.

Club sources say the top names in consideration are now Belgium’s Roberto Martinez and Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho, but the feeling is both would be close to impossible to get mid-season.

Antonio Conte is amazingly still not being completely ruled out despite the collapse of the initial attempt to get him, with that representing how shambolic the entire process has been so far.

Lopetegui’s controversial summer appointment – that also cost him the Spanish job because of the very nature of his hiring – only came after preferred options turned Madrid down, and that problem is more pronounced now.

Even candidates with more limited CVs like Michael Laudrup have rejected overtures, with the former Madrid playmaker’s agent specifically pointing to the difficulties with the squad at the moment. It has left a frustrated Perez casting around for options, with no obvious solution.

Martinez would have to get the unlikely approval of the Belgian FA, while Mourinho’s situation at United has calmed. Tottenham Hotspur’s Mauricio Pochettino is the idealised long-term option, and they will return for him with full force in the summer, but the current predicament means there is a growing danger of missing out on the Champions League next season.

This is essentially why the job is so unappealing. Madrid are only willing to offer a short-term deal, and that over a squad that is now commonly seen as needing deep renovation.

That same squad are said to feel a superior option than Solari is needed, although it was their resistance that has already caused Conte to have second thoughts.

It leaves the current remarkable situation where the biggest club in the world, and what should be one of the most lucrative managerial jobs, are struggling to hire a manager.

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